The Shere Bangla National Stadium will be the venue to host the first match of the Test series between Bangladesh and Australia. A decade ago, if the competition between the 2 sides was talked about, the odds would be heavily put in the favor of the Aussies. But the scenario has completely changed and there are talks of Bangladesh being capable of defeating the opponents this time around.
Bangladeshi all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan made a bold statement earlier that his side can defeat Australia in both the Tests. While the statement might sound a bit over the top yet the left-hander has some weight to his claims. Bangladesh cricket has come a long way and the proof of that showed up recently in the ICC Champions Trophy in England where they made it to the semis leaving Australia behind.
They also made it to the quarter final of the 2015 ODI World Cup and in the final of the 2016 Asia Cup T20. This surely is not a record of minnows. The Asian country can no longer be termed as a weak side and can’t be underestimated regardless of the format. If not defeat Australia, one thing that the hosts can assure of is a tough fight. If ever they have a chance to win a Test series against Australia, it is now.
The Australians know what awaits them. At both Dhaka and Chittagong, they will be ready to face surfaces that will be conducive to spin from day 1. The batsmen like Usman Khawaja were seen practicing without the front pad in the nets to avoid the LBW danger against the spinners. Now how much that tactic helps, remains to be seen.
Australia had lost the Test series earlier this year in India by a margin of 2-1. But they pulled off a stunning victory in the first Test in Pune where the surface offered plenty of assistance to the spinners. In the remaining matches as well, they gave a tough fight to the Indians and that’s where the Australians can take a lot of inspiration from.
The Bangladeshi side possesses a strong batting line-up. They have the home advantage and the right firepower to pile on the runs. Tamim Iqbal has been the major run-getter for them over the years and once again, the onus will be on him to provide the runs up the order. Soumya Sarkar and Imrual Kayes are the other 2 talented left-handers who would be raring to go.
A lot will depend on the 2 most experienced middle-order batsman – Shakib Al Hasan and the skipper Mushfiqur Rahim. As always, Shakib will be the key with both bat and ball. Rahim will have a plenty to think about with the captain’s hat on against a tough Australian side.
Bangladesh are expected to go in with a formidable spin attack and might include as many as 3 spinners in the playing XI. Mehedi Hasan, Shakib Al Hasan and Nasir Hossain could be the 3 spinners to start with the 2 pacers perhaps will be Taskin Ahmed and Mustafizur Rahman. ‘Spin to win’ will be the mantra for the hosts to defeat the opponents.
The batting line-up would be pretty much the same as it was against India earlier this year. David Warner had a torrid time in India and would be looking to make amends to his record in the subcontinent. Matt Renshaw was impressive and so was Peter Handscomb. Glenn Maxwell also scored a hundred in Ranchi.
But above all, the hopes would rest on the skipper and perhaps the best batsman in the format – Steve Smith. He had an outstanding series in India and was the script-writer of the victory in Pune. He was the one batsman who looked unfazed by the turning ball. Once again, he will have to anchor the innings against the spinners of Bangladesh.
They will be missing the services of Mitchell Starc as he is recovering from an injury. But Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins are experienced enough to fill in for him. Even though the pitches won’t help them at the start yet they can come in handy with the reverse swing with the old ball. Nathan Lyon will be the leader of the attack as the premier spinner and either of Ashton Agar or Mitchell Swepson would play the role of the second spinner. Maxwell would also chip in with a few off-breaks.
Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Sabbir Rahman, Taijul Islam, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim(w/c), Mehedi Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman, Taskin Ahmed, Mominul Haque, Liton Das, Shafiul Islam, Nasir Hossain
David Warner, Matt Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith(c), Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade(w), Peter Handscomb, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Jackson Bird, Mitchell Swepson